Armistead Maupin meets Ab Fab in this sparkling, sexy comedy of manners that celebrates the life and loves of Marie and a cast of LBGT characters.
This is Marie. Excuse the hair – she’s had a long night.
Marie is a girl with the gift of understanding, who is often misunderstood. At home and in her Catholic sixth form, she confounds family, friends and teachers with her innocent attempts to make everybody feel loved.
As we follow Marie from the 1960s to the 1990s, we find out what it means to be a spirited young woman from a religious household who believes that maybe, just maybe, God doesn’t care what you do with your body as long as it makes you happy. Because really, what harm can come from loving people?
With exuberant art and trademark lightness of touch, Sarson shows us how attitudes to love, sexuality and religion have changed over the last fifty years.
A beautiful Japanese-influenced graphic novel, this is the debut by the winner of the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition 2014.
Luke Marlowe,Disclaimer Magazine23 June 2017
FUNNY AND UNFORGETTABLE, JADE SARSON’S ART IS A CELEBRATION OF LIFE AND SEXUALITY
A world of angry nuns, a repressive father, sexual experimentation, and forbidden desire…
Not, as you may be imaging, my school years (for that replace Nuns with Vicars and the word “repressive” for “hugely accepting” and you’re about there…), but instead “For the Love of God, Marie!” a stunning graphic novel by Jade Sarson, published by Myriad.
Laying in bed on a lazy Sunday morning, I rarely want to pick up anything too complicated to read, so pushed aside some of the weightier tomes on the pile next to my bed and uncovered the rather eye-catching cover of “For the Love of God, Marie!” With a ginormous mug of tea and a purring cat on my lap, I was ready to dive into the world of Marie – one filled with love, emotion, sex, and warmth – in short, the perfect read for a quiet morning.
Jade Sarson is a Lincoln based illustrator and comic artist. She’s best known for “Café Suada” – a webcomic about a war between a teahouse and a coffeehouse, and her Japanese-inspired illustrations have also brought a myriad of other stories to life, many of which are available to read at the Author’s website.
Opening the book and flicking through the pages, it becomes instantly clear that Sarson is hugely talented – not just in the beautiful, vivid character designs, but in the way she allows herself room to play with style, layout and texture throughout. It helps mark changes in tone and time, but also makes for a read that’s charged with kinetic energy and pulls the reader in on a river of story and art, flowing gently throughout the book until they reach the ending – a little flushed, a little short of breath, but very glad they got on board.
Sarson follows Marie closely throughout, moving from her childhood at a Catholic school, her years training at teacher college, through to motherhood and her life as an adult and a teacher. Spanning about 40 years overall, Marie is a magnetic and warm personality with which to spend the time – and, as corny as it sounds, the reader really does go on a journey with her, exploring love, sex, and loss through the eyes of a remarkable woman.
THERE'S A WARM, COMFORTABLE FEELING TO A LOT OF THE BOOK, IN PART DUE TO THE SHEER JOYFULNESS THAT SARSON'S ART GIVES THE READER
Reaching back 50 or so years into the past, it’s a story that's none the less hugely relevant to today's world – exploring sexuality, slut-shaming, racism, and gender identity through the characters, but allowing said characters such life and agenda that it never feels like Sarson is writing an “Issue Driven” book – the questions and situations that arise are simply ones that the characters encounter naturally, the reader alongside them.
In Marie’s case, she’s a woman ahead of her time – awakened by her sexuality and eager to explore the infinite possibilities it offers her. She loves openly, and her passions burn strongly - portrayed fittingly by the fiery golden hair that Marie is drawn with in the art, dazzling other characters and drawing the readers eye to Marie in every single panel she appears in. Those who meet her fall swiftly in love with her and I was no exception, but whilst she is a remarkable, vibrant character, Sarson doesn't give short shrift to the other characters, allowing the reader ample time to meet and fall for them over the course of the book. William, Colin, Agnes, Prannath and Annie are just some of the many individual personalities that are encountered throughout the book - some for brief moments and some accompany Marie throughout, but all are memorable in their own right and explore different areas of life and love through their own, distinctive stories. There's a warm, comfortable feeling to a lot of the book, in part due to the sheer joyfulness that Sarson's art gives the reader, but she doesn't shy away from portraying difficult moments in these rich lives - and there are a fair few moments that had me gasping out loud, in particular, one involving a firework and an unfortunately placed umbrella...
The art allows both the reader and Sarson to explore every inch of these characters - and given that the comic and graphic novel industry tends to contain art in which the characters are all pneumatic breasts and bulging biceps, it's a relief to see quite how much Sarson celebrates the differing flesh that forms these characters. Graphic sexuality isn't just shown, it's embraced and enjoyed and celebrated. Books like this don't come along very often, but Sarson's immense talents make this a one of a kind read - sexy, funny, emotional, and completely unforgettable.
Marie's journey starts in school - and it seems a fitting place to end this review on too. Most of us have suffered through excruciating sex education lessons in school, seeing teachers wishing they were anywhere but in the classroom, whilst trying to keep control of a class and attempting to put a condom on a rapidly bruising banana. If you want to let a teenager know about sex - and the soaring highs and crashing lows that come with sex as part of adult life - just give them "For The Love of God, Marie!". And don't stop at giving it to school children either - it's one I think everyone could do with reading, embracing, and loving.
Andy Oliver, Best of the Year 2016, Forbidden Planet7 December 2016
Jade Sarson’s For the Love of God, Marie!
from Myriad Editions was an absolute revelation and I say that as not just one of the judges of the 2014 Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition (which Jade won, resulting in the book’s publication) but also as someone who has been covering her work since the 2012 Parallel Lives anthology.
For the Love of God, Marie!
centres on the non-conformist free spirit Marie and follows her from her 1960s Catholic sixth form college days through to the 1990s, exploring her very individual approach to life, love and making people happy. Jade’s free-flowing visuals are stunning here, as is her gorgeous use of colour to accentuate mood and theme, and her ability to make her audience feel totally invested in her characters remains undiminished.
Myriad’s support of some of the most exciting new names in UK indie comics has been phenomenal over the last few years and their 2017 schedule should be watched with a very eager eye.
Nimue Brown, Druid Life6 December 2016
Some books are not easily described, so as I fumble my way towards a review, let me start by clarifying that this is a brilliant, surprising sort of book and I really liked it.
For the love of God, Marie! is a graphic novel by Jade Sarson. Page by page it is indeed a comic, but there’s a lot of it and a proper novel shape, so ‘graphic novel’ seems the right term. The main character, Marie, starts out in the 6thform of a Catholic school in the 60s, and we follow her through her trials and adventures into the 90s.
It’s a beautifully drawn book. There are some manga influences, so for the less manga literate odd things (like being able to see where a person’s eyebrows are regardless of where their hair is) may cause confusion. You have to trust the artist and trust that what she’s showing you is more important than a literal representation. I found it a visually accessible book, although Jade does challenge you to keep up with the action sometimes and doesn’t spell everything out. She uses a fairly limited pallet to remarkable effect and she really, really knows what people look like.
I knew before I got the book that it had a significant amount of erotic content. I’d expected it to be a romp, but once it gets going, the story I found touching through to heartbreaking. Marie sets out to love everyone, especially the people deemed least loveable. There’s an innocence to her, an obliviousness to the idea of sexual sin. However, as a Catholic schoolgirl, with Catholic parents, she’s subjected to continual humiliation and slut shaming because she loves too much. Misunderstood, she doesn’t get any easy time of it, and fate plays some cruel tricks on her.
Representations of polyamorous folk in literature are few. Promiscuous men (and that’s not the same thing) aren’t so unusual, but women who are plural in their loving, don’t show up much. This is the least erotic book I’ve encountered with a polyamorous lead; a bisexual character and a woman whose life and sexual identity don’t stop in response to motherhood or becoming middle aged. I wish there was more of this sort of thing.
There’s a naked woman on the cover of the book. If naked people having a good time offend you, then you won’t like it. We live in a culture that fears sex, is horrified by it, doesn’t want people under the age of 18 looking at it but will cheerfully show them depictions of war and murder. This has always confused me. But then, I found a lot to empathise with in Marie, and I’d rather live in a world where no one is condemned for loving too much.View source
For Books Sake14 October 2016
A vibrant, Japanese-influenced graphic novel with a charming cast of LGBT characters
For the Love of God, Marie! came into being when Jade Sarson won the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition 2014 with a shorter piece.
This is her debut graphic novel, focusing on the story of Marie, a girl from a strict Catholic background who wants only to love whomever she chooses. Her parents and teachers unsurprisingly disapprove of her desires to be open to the world and all it has to offer.
Marie’s story unfolds over decades, honing in on changing attitudes to sex, love, gender and religion.
Despite being mistreated by her elders, she remains a defiantly positive and accepting character who stands up for herself and those she cares about.
The teenage Marie takes issue with being called a slut, questioning the definition of the word and why her promiscuity is considered a bad thing.
She is enraged to discover that society deems it more than acceptable for her brother to behave in exactly the same way.
She continues to follow her own path, ignoring the naysayers and falling in love with people her parents don’t approve of for reasons of race or gender.
The book is divided into sections depicting the great loves of Marie’s life, including a schoolgirl friend and an older man who sparks off a poignant motif with a yellow umbrella.
For the Love of God, Marie! is beautifully-drawn in a vibrant Manga-influenced style which brings an added sense of fun to what is at times a comedy of manners as well as a portrait of a rather dramatic life.
Sex scenes are depicted in a direct, uncensored manner while retaining the same fun style present throughout.
The book itself is a pleasingly tactile object, using quality matte paper with a fascinating use of colour. Yellowed pages become lighter with the passing of time, making for a pleasing gradient when looking at the closed book.
The colours within the panels are also painstakingly well-considered. Dull browns depict Marie’s oppressive religious childhood, making way for colourful 1960s purples, garish 70s wallpaper patterns and a bold primary 80s palette. The one constant is Marie’s gloriously yellow hair.
A fun, sexy and moving account of changing times and a life lived defiantly outside of society’s demands.View source
Publishers Weekly26 September 2016
As a teen Catholic schoolgirl in the 1960s, Marie takes the commandment to love thy neighbor literally, opening her heart and legs and discovering her own voracious sexuality in the process. She angrily brushes off the haters and slut shamers, falling headfirst into romantic adventures and befriending fellow social outliers such as William, a gay cross-dresser, and Agnes, a girl from an abusive home. But as Marie grows up and the ’60s sour into the ’70s, free love becomes less freeing. The story sometimes edges toward soapy melodrama but saves itself from becoming overserious with cheeky humor, cheerful eroticism, and characters who become more interesting and nuanced over time. And the lush, lively, manga-influenced art is to die for. If this were just a good-looking sex comic, that would be enough. But it delves into deeper issues of faith, family, aging, love, and loyalty with light, sure strokes. As this debut graphic novel shows, U.K. cartoonist Sarson is an up-and-coming talent to watch.View source
A profoundly important and entertaining text, Jade Sarson's award-winning graphic novel explores love and female sexuality within the patriarchal setting of 1960s England and beyond.
Loving thy neighbour as thyself is one of the most virtuous and lawful things you can do, according to various people in the New Testament. Marie’s dad certainly thinks so. A devout Catholic, he is visibly proud of his daughter’s participation in the nativity plays and hymn services that are the storefront of the religion he has passed on to her.
However, the rules of organised religion - organised anything, perhaps - have their limits, and her teen years are enough to show Marie that love has conditions.
The public perception of a woman exploring and enjoying her sexuality is still a vastly negative one, with all sorts of horrible words attached to it that don’t touch men at all. Possessing a unique ability to connect with and understand people who might ordinarily be ostracised for their circumstances - be it health, self-expression, race, appearance or sexuality - Marie recognises her body as a vessel for love.
Each chapter of For the Love of God, Marie! is devoted to the loves of Marie’s life, and the impact her sexual connection with them has had on them and those in the near vicinity. Its themes are seemingly endless, presenting a discussion of female sexuality, pansexuality, tolerance, identity, familial and romantic relationships, and the hypocrisy of institutions that profess love of everyone - as long as they are like us.
Winner of the Myriad First Graphic Novel Competition, the book is highly progressive, even now. Commenting on the social tolerance of Britain between the 60s and 90s, it creates space for a lot of conversations that are so far from realised that we barely notice that we’re not having them.
Forward thinking, too, is Sarson’s mode of storytelling and the artwork that takes us through Marie’s life. Colour is integral to the narrative, with tea-stained pages and a fantastical palette of pinks and golds that darkens with each chapter as Marie gains more experience of the world.
No two pages of the book are the same, the story dictating the flow of panels, the presence of gutters and the angle of a subject. The only constant is Marie’s hair, which is as wild as she is. This is symbolic in itself because, although in biological terms curly hair is the norm and straight the mutation, studies show that female hairstyles have been socially conditioned into an imperative of neatness.
Sarson is a young creator but her ability is clearly innate. While For the Love of God Marie! isn’t perfect - her relationship with Agnes isn’t entirely convincing, seeming to stem from a union against double standards rather than any actual shared interests - it is an incredible achievement of intelligent social storytelling that demands to be read in one sitting.View source
Teddy Jamieson, Herald Scotland
One of the pleasures of Jade Sarson’s debut graphic novel For the Love of God, Marie! is that it takes sexuality seriously. That’s not to say it misses the pleasure, the humour and, yes, the silliness of sex. But Sarson is keen to celebrate it as part of life’s rich tapestry. Even if sometimes it can go wrong. That’s not all that Sarson’s book deals with. You can also find her take on religion, bisexuality, body image, motherhood and a Catholic education. The visual style, meanwhile. is pure eye candy but its lighter-than-air easiness-on-the-eye is deceptive. It’s a reminder that laughter can cut deep.View source
If understanding and kindness is what you crave, I present you with 225 pages of pure passion initially presented in the most heavenly, cohesive coupling of purples and gold.
It’s a generational saga and its breadth is such that it covers fifty years and encompasses so much that in addition to being a thumping drama of ecstatic highs and gut-wrenching lows, of parental culpability and the determination to do better, of success and failure and reconsideration, it is also a prime slab of British social history which I rank right up there with the triumph that is NELSON
and even with the exceptional, historical memory-jog that is Raymond Briggs’ biography of his parents, ETHEL & ERNEST
It is also exceptionally inclusive and erotic that will be adored by fans of Jess Fink’s CHESTER 5000 XYV
and enjoyed on another level entirely.
This is a book so bursting with Jade Sarson’s love that – as I’ve sworn – it will make your hearts soar.
I'm really pleased we have got such a beautifully individual and dreamlike succession of fun and filth to add to the Myriad roster! Jade has done a very individual and entertaining book here, and I enjoyed reading it and didn't find it predictable at all, which is a very rare thing indeed. It’s going to be a knockout!
In turns dramatic, sexy, funny and heart wrenching, the story pulled me into Marie's world and didn't let me go until the last page. Much like Marie herself, it grabs your attention and leaves you breathless. The free and energetic reading experience put me in mind of Osamu Tezuka's rollercoaster storytelling style – complete with dramatic double-takes and sudden shifts from lighthearted to tear-jerking and back again, all delivered with beautiful open layouts and a fantastic use of color. This book (again, much like Marie herself) is completely and unapologetically itself from beginning to end, and I loved it!
Full of energy with dynamic characters who jump off the pages... and into bed with each other. Yes, it is rather raunchy. But Sarson's lively graphic storytelling also explores the more complex world of Catholic guilt, gender bending and the triumphant blossoming of a young woman's sexuality in a world hell bent on branding her a slut. Sarson is a great storyteller and definitely one to watch on the UK comic scene.